Contador skips Worlds and ends season early

Alberto Contador on podium, Tour de France 2010 stage 19

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador will skip the World Championships and is likely to end his season early. Spain announced its long list of 21 cyclists today for the World Championship, leaving Contador at home.

"I talked to him on the phone," head coach, Jose Luis Santos told news agency AFP, "and he said he preferred not to extend his season so he can optimise his preparations for next season."

Contador raced for the last official time at the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris. There, on the Champs-Élysées he won the race for the third time, adding to his 2007 and 2009 wins. One week later, Bjarne Riis announced he signed Contador to his Saxo Bank team for the next two seasons, 2011 and 2012.

The Tour de France may have been Contador's last race in his three years with team Astana due to an already long season and a crash on Tuesday. He slipped on oil going around a roundabout and banged his right knee in the crash.

"The fall did not seem serious and Alberto was able to return home by bicycle," Contador's press officer reported. However, the next day his knee was swollen and he had to take a break from training.

Contador started his season in February at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, where he won a stage and overall. He also won the overall classification at Paris-Nice, the Vuelta a Castilla y León and the Tour de France.

The last time he raced the World Championships was in 2008 in Varese, Italy, the season he had to miss the Tour de France. That year, he raced and won the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España. In addition to the Worlds, he raced for Spain at the Olympics and helped team-mate Samuel Sánchez win.

Sánchez is part of Jose Luis Santos' 21-man list, which includes three-time World Champion Oscar Freire and Luis León Sánchez. The 21 men: Javier Moreno, Imanol Erviti, Ivan Gutierrez, Pablo Lastras, Luis Pasamontes, Ruben Plaza, Jose Joaquin Rojas, Luis Leon Sánchez, Francisco José Ventoso Xavier Tondo, Koldo Fernandez, Egoi Martinez, Samuel Sánchez, Carlos Barredo, Oscar Freire, Juan Manuel Gárate, Juan Antonio Flecha, Joaquím Rodriguez, Haimar Zubeldia, Gustavo Cesar Veloso, David Garcia.

Santos will select his nine-man in the next two weeks.

The World Championships are on October 3 in Geelong, Australia, two weeks after the Vuelta a España ends in Madrid. The course should suit the sprinters, but the presence of two small hills may split the group and suit a sprinter like Milan-San Remo winner, Freire.

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.